A Wigan single mum who was stripped of her tax credits by scandal-hit firm Concentrix has spoken out about spending weeks on the breadline.
Catherine Carter, from Abram, was wrongly denied the £117.50 she received weekly to help look after her two sons because the controversial US firm inaccurately claimed she had another tenant in her home.
Catherine, of Warrington Road, was forced to borrow money from relatives and friends to get by as after meeting bills and other essential costs she was left with virtually nothing for herself, 17-year-old Callum and Daniel, four.
The nightmare experience began in late August and only came to an end when she received backdated payments more than a month later following the intervention of Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue.
The 36-year-old today hit out at Concentrix for sanctioning her incorrectly and spoke of the frustrating wasted hours on the phone to the firm trying to get the mistake rectified.
She said: “I got a letter on August 23 saying my tax credits money was being stopped. They said I had another adult living in the property.
“I thought they meant my 17-year-old son but they said it was a female. I laughed and told them I wasn’t that way inclined, I had to see the funny side of it because I would have broken down otherwise.
“They gave me this woman’s name. I had never heard of her in my life but they said she was living at my address. They’ve given no excuse or apology.
“They told me to send a statement and my tenancy agreement and I was phoning to check they had received them for two weeks.
“I ended up phoning Royal Mail and they confirmed Concentrix had received them the day after I sent them.
“I managed to get hold of them again after being on the phone for two hours and they finally said they would deal with it but it had to be reconsidered.
“I just had to keep ringing them, one day I phoned 85 times. You can imagine what my phone bill was like but I wasn’t giving up.
“I was living off my child benefit. I got my income support every two weeks but I had to pay my bills and everything else so I was leaving myself with nothing. I had friends, my mum and my sisters helping out but they all struggled.
“I was ringing up the Jobcentre and anywhere I could think of, trying to get help from somewhere. I was crying every day.”
Catherine said the sanction came at the worst possible time as she was trying to buy uniform and equipment for Daniel to begin primary school and criticised the behaviour and phone manner of Concentrix’s employees.
She also told of the toll the ordeal took, saying she became seriously ill trying to provide for her family with her budget stretched almost to breaking point.
Catherine said: “The arrogance of Concentrix was unbelievable, I’ve never known anything like it. Sometimes they would hang up on me.
“How do they expect us to survive? Some of them said there was nothing they could do and they had thousands of cases to go through, but that’s their problem. They shouldn’t have stopped people’s money.
“It was making me ill. I’ve suffered depression in the past and it got so bad I wouldn’t go out of the house. Every Sunday we would go to my mum’s for dinner and I couldn’t eat anything.”
Catherine spoke of her gratitude to the staff at Ms Fovargue’s constituency office, who ensured she and other mums targeted incorrectly had their cases sorted out and their money paid.
However, she is still angry the firm was employed by HMRC.